Engineering, math most promising fields

By By Lara Fu, Advertising Manager

Senior Nik Ramirez plans to major in either photography or stage design in college. Both majors fall under the general category of arts, which according to a recent Georgetown University study has an unemployment rate of 11.1 percent and a starting salary of $30,000 a year—considerably lower than that of most majors.

Despite the study’s findings, Ramirez and many other CHS seniors are not planning to abandon their future career choices.

“I might not get a high-paying job, but these are things I really enjoy,” Ramirez said. “I’d rather be doing something I’m interested in than something I don’t enjoy.”

The study, titled “Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal,” prompted critical responses from many publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Time Magazine. The study analyzes the job opportunities and salaries that correspond with various college majors, as well as the effect of the current economic situation on students’ choice of majors.

Anthony P. Carnevale, Ban Cheah and Jeff Strohl, the authors of the study, argue that while students should choose majors that they enjoy, they should be aware of the job opportunities and salaries that result from their majors.

In a Jan. 14 Washington Post article, Carnevale explained that the differences in income and employment for various majors have greatly increased since the 1970s.

Washington Post columnist Tracy Grant, who wrote about the study, believes the study unfairly emphasizes the economic aspect of majors over others.

“My concern about the way the Georgetown study was portrayed was that the only factors that matter are economic ones,” Grant said. “Kids shouldn’t be discouraged from discovering new loves in college.”

Senior Kristina Roberts plans to major in nursing in college, which is currently one of the most stable majors with an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent and the third highest starting salary at $43,000 a year.

“I knew that it wouldn’t be hard to find a job,” Roberts said. “It’s not why I chose it, but it’s one of the benefits.” 

According to the study, going to graduate school increases employment chances, and the unemployment rate for students with graduate degrees is two percent lower than it is for those without them.

Junior Chris Gauch plans to earn a master’s degree in business and then go to law school. Business majors have an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent and a starting salary of $63,000 a year, while students with law degrees had a 4.5 percent unemployment rate and a starting salary of $55,000 a year.

“I want to have a profitable job,” Gauch said. “This seems profitable and interesting at the same time.”
Grant agrees that students should enter college with open minds, instead of only focusing on future employment and earnings.

“College should be the first great opportunity to explore the world in a free-thinking way,” Grant said. “It should set the path for your creativity and curiosity throughout your life. To make it be a solely economic decision takes that factor out of it.”